Have you ever slept in a weird position and then woke up to a REALLY friggin’ sore neck? Of course you have! So have I! You know how it is: a few days of carefully turning your head… a few aspirin or some Ben Gay helps a little, but not much… then it goes away after 2 or 3 days, until the next time.
I have had this happen to me several times, but now I have something similar happening, but a bit worse.
So, about 2 months ago I woke up and felt fine. Got in the shower, and while showering I felt a muscle in the back of my neck/upper portion of my back TIIIIGHTHEN up HARD over the course of about 5 seconds or so… leaving me with a REALLY bad case of that slept-in-the-wrong-position neck cramp! “Weird!” I thought, “Why the delay in the symptoms? I got out of bed maybe 30 minutes ago!” I (mentally) shrugged, very painfully completed my shower, got dressed went to work… after about a week, the pain in my neck had abated a little, but was still VERY much there. I was able to obtain a tube of Ben Gay at the black market store (it isn’t sold at pharmacies here in Korea, and as far as I can tell, they have nothing like it). The Ben Gay helped HUGELY, and a few days later, the pain was gone.
So now it’s about 2 months later. Yesterday I felt great! I met Astrogirl for lunch, and as we were walking into the restaurant, I felt the same muscle (I’m pretty sure) again TIIIIIIIIIIGHTEN up over the period of several seconds! By the time we sat down at our table, I was in pretty severe pain (if I moved my head at all; if I kept it perfectly still, my neck hurt a little, but not too bad…).
I pretended that nothing was wrong, of course… I am the Alpha Male, after all… but she eventually noticed that I was breaking into a cold sweat every time I took a bite of my food. She asked if something was wrong, and I told her that my neck was hurting, but didn’t elucidate. We proceeded to eat and do a few other things, and I went home at about 8, broke out the liquor, and dulled the pain a bit before going to bed early.
This morning, getting out of bed was a 5 minute ordeal of horrific pain, and I won’t even attempt to describe the shower that followed! I got dressed in slow-motion over the course of about 20 minutes, and went off to teach. Walking was tolerable if I did it SLOOOOWLY! But by the time I had reached my classroom on top of the hill, I had concluded that I was NOT teaching that day, but instead going to the hospital (now, understand that I HATE going to Korean hospitals to the point where I removed my own stitches a few years ago just to avoid going back! I tells ya I was/am HURTIN’!). I cancelled class, apologized to my students (as if! They were stoked not to have class, the little so-and-sos!)
So off to the hospital. Hours later, X-rays taken and examined, and I’m sitting in the Doctor’s office. The Doctor does not speak English. My Korean is good for “Yo! Waitress! More beer and Kim-chi!” or “So, you wanna go back to my place and remove your clothes?”
The Doctor began speaking in Korean, and I caught about every third word… I get first that I have a semi-herniated disk (he showed me really briefly on the X-ray… the second or third vertebra from the top shows a markedly smaller gap where the disk is than the other vertebrae…), however, he says, that is NOT the problem, and requires no treatment. OK, fine… I am somewhat relieved because I emphatically DO NOT want to have surgery here in Korea!! They’ll leave your fat ass naked on a gurney in the hallway for an hour while they do paperwork… I’ve seen it!:eek:
So, eventually I understand that the problem is that I have a muscle in my neck which has tightened up (I kinda already KNEW that!), and is pulling the vertebrae in my neck almost into a straight line (as opposed to the slightly “C” shaped curve that is normal). OK, but why? What have I done wrong? This has happened twice now, and I DON’T want it to happen again! It hurts! What can I do to prevent it?
I lacked the Korean to ask these questions… or (probably) to understand the answers (unless they involved “Yo! Waitress! Wanna take off your clothes?” )
As a last ditch try, I borrowed his phone and called Astrogirl. Asked if she was busy, she said no, I told her I was in the hospital (“Why?!?” “My neck.” “But you said your neck only hurt a little!” “I lied, OK?”… etc.)… gave the phone to the doctor, explaining that this was a Korean friend, and could he explain what was wrong to her so that she could explain to me? He jabbered at her for a few minutes, and instead of handing the phone to me so she could interpret, and I could ask questions, he hung up!:mad: IDIOT!!
I debated briefly calling her back, but I had already been there for several hours, in pretty severe pain, and I just wanted out! So, I got my prescription and left… went to a pharmacy and got my meds (FYI: anti-inflamatories and muscle relaxers, which so far have done NOTHING, BTW… but I am impatient when in pain…), and came home…
I have spoken to Astrogirl on the phone, and she told me what the doctor said: basically what I understood from him, but answering none of my questions…
So, Dopers (or Dorkers, even! :p), I turn to you! What could cause this muscle tightening? How can I prevent it in the future? Am I doing something wrong? Help!!! Please!!!
Sorry this was so long…